I fully support the decision by Network Rail not to handover on the current site the signal box to the Polegate Signal Box Preservation Society (PSBPS) reported in last week’s paper. To do so would present high risk to the safe running of the railway and society members themselves when working within the confines of the signal box. I am a chartered electrical engineer who previously worked for British Rail and was responsible for electrical services in the Polegate area.
The risks are the power cables which run close to the box 33,000V traction supplies and because they are on private land are buried at a shallow depth. Secondly a fence would need erecting in front of signal box and this would infringe gauge clearance. (The envelope required for the safe running of trains) It was for these reasons when approached by the society I would not join. Thirdly there is a risk of missiles being thrown on the track from the box and Network Rail would insist on the windows being locked.
The cables could be diverted to the other side of the track, likely costs £250,000, but the Society would have to bear these costs and pay up front but the track clearance issue would remain.
The PSBPS have also not considered how they will maintain the structure especially trackside. Any ladder or scaffold would require a track possession which they would have to bear the cost. I can suggest two alternative sites for the box diagonally opposite its present location on the green or at Brightling Road where it could be used in conjunction with the Polegate Engineers Society to control their model railway.
No doubt in my mind correct decision made.